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FMM urges enforcement agencies to take more educational approach as anxiety builds among companies over SOP compliance

FMM In The News: THE EDGE MARKETS, KUALA LUMPUR, Wednesday, July 7, 2021 - The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has urged enforcement agencies to take a more educational approach towards their duties in ensuring Covid-19 prevention standard operating procedures (SOPs) are in place among businesses.

In a statement, the federation's president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said it is better than the current approach by the authorities, which he claimed is "very aggressive and microscopic fault-finding" where companies are immediately given fines with very little opportunities and time to correct faults.

"Very little empathy is shown to companies that are struggling to sustain operations. Instead, many enforcement visits/checks are driven to find the tiniest fault in the premises with no consideration on the level of relevance of the fault in relation to the core purpose of the visit i.e. to prevent the Covid-19 infection spread," he said.

He added that factories have had to endure multiple raids by several enforcement agencies that interpret the SOPs and approvals by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry differently.

"FMM has been receiving complaints from members on very hostile enforcement teams and on fines being imposed for the tiniest fault or slight deviation of the Covid-19 SOPs which are not done on purpose because adherence to the SOPs has already been ingrained as part of the new normal of business operations.

"Minor non-compliance or genuine oversight on one item under the SOPs such as not having sufficient locations with hand sanitisers, failure to mark the entry and exit door/pathways, failure to cordon off non-operation production lines etc are being used against companies during this lockdown period when the enforcement teams are not able to identify any other faults pertaining to the actual business operations during this period.

"FMM wishes to reiterate that faulting industries on minor issues on SOPs and imposing fines and business closure based on different interpretation of the SOPs is not acceptable because it creates continuous fear and anxiousness within the business community, especially the SMEs (small and medium enterprises), despite them having approvals and all SOPs in place," said Soh.

He also reiterated that factories are not the main source of Covid-19 cases.

"Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of Health was also most recently quoted during an engagement with the business community on July 4, 2021 that of the total cases, close to 70% were sporadic cases while 30% came from clusters of which 62% were workplace clusters.

"Factories only account for 30% of these workplace clusters. This works out to be around only 6% of the total number of cases that can be attributed to factories.

"Even more recently, MOH (Ministry of Health) reported that only 15,069 (9.7%) out of a total of 156,105 infections cases from June 1, 2021 to June 26, 2021 were attributed to the manufacturing sector. In addition, other data has also supported the fact that factories are also not the main source of workplace infections," he said.

He added that Dr Noor Hisham also said that only 14.4% or 95,156 of all 662,457 Covid-19 cases in the country as at June 14 were from the manufacturing centre, while International Trade and Industry Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said that during June 1-23, only 12,872 cases or 9.3% out of 138,649 infections came from the sector.

"In summary, the manufacturing sector contributed only between 5% and 10% of the infection cases on average for this year.

"It is acknowledged that workplace clusters will exist given that the virus is now in the community. Given the need to support the economy during this very fragile economic situation, workplaces especially those relating to the manufacturing sector will have to continue to operate to support the economy," he said.

Soh again urged the government to vaccinate more people quickly, especially those in the Enhanced Movement Control Order areas of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, through the National Immunisation Programme and Program Immunisasi Industri Awam Swasta.

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